- November
Posted By : Secretary
Military use of geologists and geology: a historical overview and introduction

A new paper via the Geological Society, co-authored by two association members, Ted Rose and Judy Ehlen.


Napoleon Bonaparte was, in 1798, the first general to include geologists as such on a military operation. Within the UK, the following century saw geology taught, and national geological mapping initiated, as a military science. Nevertheless, military geologists were not deployed on a battlefield until World War I, first by the German and Austro-Hungarian armies and later and less intensively those of the UK and USA. Geologists were used primarily to guide abstraction of groundwater, construction of ‘mine’ tunnels and dug-outs, development of fortifications and quarrying of natural resources to enhance or repair supply routes. Only the USSR and Germany entered World War II with organized military geological expertise, but the UK and later the USA made significant use of military geologists, albeit far fewer than the c. 400 in total used by German forces. Military geologist roles in World War II included most of those of World War I, but were extended to other aspects of terrain evaluation, notably the rapid construction of temporary airfields and factors affecting cross-country vehicular movement (‘going’). After 1945, more military geologists were used in the USA than Germany or the UK, in these and wider roles, but mostly as civilians or reservists.




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